CRAZY LENNY’S E-BIKES
We learned about Crazy Lenny’s bike shop from Ravi Kempaiah, whom we covered (April 2018) for his e-bike world-record ride from Madison, Wisconsin, to San Diego, California.
Len Mattioli, aka “Crazy Lenny,” has been into cycling his entire life. He’s ridden across the U.S., from east to west. He’s even ridden through Death Valley in the summertime when temperatures are insanely hot. One day on that ride in the late afternoon, he stopped in Furnace Creek. The temperature was a scalding 117 degrees.
He has been a career salesman, selling appliances in a business called American TV, going back to 1968. He eventually had 15 stores throughout the Midwest. Over the years, between work and riding, he started to develop arthritis in his knees and hips. As his arthritis started getting worse, his orthopedists were saying they could fix one knee and might have to replace the other. Len didn’t think either of those were for him, so he refused, and they told him he wouldn’t be able to ride. A friend suggested Len try an e-bike. He tried a Schwinn Tailwind, and it was love at first pedal stroke.
He also started offering e-bikes as a premium to people who bought an appliance or a television from him.
INSIDE THE STORE
After Lenny opened up his first bike shop, he loved it so much that he sold his appliance business. The first shop was a small space, and he started off with an initial purchase of 360 Schwinn Tailwinds.
“What differentiates one store from another? The quality of the salespeople.”
Soon enough he expanded and moved to a bigger 12,000-square-foot space in Madison, Wisconsin, with about 2/3 of that space devoted to the display of e-bikes, and the rest of the space is used for bike maintenance and storage. He has also opened a second store in Winter Garden, Florida.
Their best-selling brands are Bulls, Haibike, Easy Motion/BH, Izip, Pedego, Stromer, Magnum and EG. Lenny’s shops carry 24 brands in total and keep around 200–220 different bikes on display in the showroom. You can’t sell what you can’t show, so they show as close to everything that they carry as they will fit. Last year Lenny did a booming business, selling over 3000 bikes. Incredibly, Lenny is on track to surpass last year’s sales success this year.
Their website tagline is “Everybody knows you can buy an e-bike for less at Crazy Lenny’s.” They are known for selling bikes below MSRP, which has gotten them into some hot water with some brands. Since they don’t advertise their prices online, you have to give them your e-mail address to find a price.
Len has two strong beliefs that direct how he runs his business. He believes in paying his employees well, partly via commission, and he believes in advertising.
Despite how successful he’s been, Lenny knows that selling e-bikes is not easy, and there is a strong emphasis on making sure the employees have solid knowledge of e-bikes and the ability to convey that to customers without confusing them. To help this along, the shop has weekly meetings to discuss things like, what people are looking for, what are the important price points, and what features make customers more excited about buying a bike?
When you talk to Len, you can feel how much he cares about people, and his employees reflect that as well. They have meetings to improve their knowledge to pass that along to customers. Their mission is to match the right bike to the customer.
“Despite how successful he’s been, Lenny knows that selling e-bikes is not easy, and there is a strong emphasis on making sure the employees have solid knowledge of e-bikes.”
Len believes that advertising is a great way to get their message out. It is obviously working, as their sales show. “What differentiates one store from another?” Lenny will ask before offering an answer: “It’s the quality of the salespeople. The quality of the salespeople can be talked about very nicely in ads.”
They have closeout sales listed on their website, which are sometimes older stock that they need to liquidate. They also offer a “crazy deal” on their website, which is whatever happens to be a budget deal at the moment and changes over time.
They offer a complete tune-up for $95, which includes brake adjustment, derailleur adjustment, wheel truing, checking the electronics and battery, safety inspection, and more, not including any parts needed.
The shop offers short demo rides on bikes to give customers an idea of how the bikes ride. You can also simply rent a bike from them, starting at $60 for four hours. Shorter rides have a $45 minimum. That’s certainly a great way to see Madison or Orlando. Best of all, Lenny offers zero-percent financing on e-bikes, and they can ship most of their bikes anywhere.